Dominica

– visited October 2013 –

At sunrise, the plane is already in the air. Dominica is another of these places that got their name by a strange coincidence. The map-makers (and name-givers) sailed past on a Sunday, domenica in Italian.

I get to talk to a couple I remember seeing at Shirley Heights. He is from Belgium and she is from Abkhazia, never met someone from there, how exciting. We have similar plans, we take a taxi together, the driver gives us an introduction of the island. Her most important point is to distinguish Dominica from the Dominican Republic, “they got a prostitution problem [I saw that] and we don’t”, still, many parcels, if not correctly marked, would go there.

The Indian river is peaceful, the boatman rows us slowly into the beautiful forest environment, we spot some birds, some crabs, some reptiles and some film requisites. Some scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean (part II) were filmed here and many people are interested in that. I like it more for the nature.

We make our way to Roseau, the capital city (population 15,000) of Dominica (pop. 72,000) and move on to Wotton Waven. Two things of note, some of these islands changed hands (mostly between Britain and France) several times. This explains how French names sometimes appear in English speaking countries. Another thing of note is the “imperfect market” that exist on many Caribbean Islands, prices are often high for what you get as these places are too small for effective competition. It happens to us with the taxi to Wotten Waven. It’s about 5 kilometres, no buses but all the drivers, who all know each other, demand 20$, no one is going to undercut anyone and, in the end, we pay as we have no other choice as long as they stick with their price. We take an afternoon walk to Trafalgar Falls, in the evening relax at the hot spring.  

Batou Gorge is only a few metres wide and nice and cool to swin. We have it all to ourselves. You can have bad luck though on a small place like Dominica, every two weeks or so a cruise ship dumps thousands of people on the island and they crowd all the attractions. We head on to the Champagne Reef, volcanic activity allows you to swim and snorkel in bubbly water. I’d love to explore Dominica more but there is no time. I miss out on the Boiling Lake, for example, that would have been a full-day tour into the middle of the island.

I have a few hours in Roseau before the boat leaves. The high-speed ferry connects the French territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique, stopping in Dominica and on some days going on to Saint Lucia. I’m heading to Martinique.